Schools warned of possible intruders Authorities link incidents to thefts on some campuses

March 31, 1998|By Howard Libit | Howard Libit,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County school and police officials are warning all county schools about intruders who have been found wandering through buildings in Towson, Parkville and elsewhere in the central area during the past six weeks.

While none has threatened students or teachers -- and all have left peacefully when confronted by staff members -- the intruders might be responsible for recent thefts, school officials say.

Elementary schools have reported intruders almost a dozen times, and several incidents appear to involve the same people, said Baltimore County police Capt. Roger L. Sheets, who is assigned to the county school district as the safe schools facilitator.

"We're trying to heighten everyone's awareness," Sheets said. "We want schools to be accessible to the parents and guardians of the children who attend them, but we also want to make sure it is safe for the staff and the students."

Elementary schools reporting intruders include Padonia, Lutherville, Pot Spring, Ruxton, Oakleigh, White Oak and Edmondson Heights, Sheets said.

The incidents range from two teen-age girls found in Lutherville Laboratory for Science, Math and Communications last month to a man spotted in several elementary schools during the past few weeks.

The alert has been circulated to all of the county's 159 schools but is primarily aimed at elementary schools in the central and northern areas. It specifically singles out two repeat intruders: At Pot Spring Elementary on March 18, several boys said they walked into a restroom and found a man wearing black clothes and a ski mask leaving the janitor's closet, according to county police spokesman Bill Toohey. The man fled, and school officials called police.

While investigating, police learned that a first-grade class at Pot Spring had seen a similarly dressed man as students returned to their empty classroom one afternoon in February. The man left before the teacher saw him, Toohey said.

Several elementaries, including Oakleigh and White Oak, have reported finding two African-American women -- at least one of whom has long braids -- roaming the halls. When confronted by staff, the women claim to be trying to register a child at the school, Sheets said.

Credit cards, wallets and other items have been reported missing from some of the schools, Sheets said.

The warning suggests that staff members be alert for strangers in their schools and report them to school and police officials.

Many of the county's schools require visitors to wear badges, a step Sheets praised as helpful to building safety.

Pub Date: 3/31/98

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